Diving into a serendipity bath
I was in Lyon last week speaking to a group of professional women at the WPNG about career change and passion and as I was winging my way through an exciting hour of sharing my thoughts on what might amount to the serendipity of my life path, I kept coming up with process and the need to love it more than any goals or indeed goalposts, for as we well know, the latter are often prone to mobility.
So I’m a writer. But what sort of a writer am I? I’ve been trying to get a handle on this through various blog tours like The Next Big Thing, My Writing Process, and I tell you, it’s not easy.
Maybe I should first be asking what sort of reader I am. I like short stories, but not all the time. I don’t like zombies and vampires, but then I wrote a flash on the latter and had fun writing and reading it. I don’t like crime fiction, but I watch crime series on TV, and I loved the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson. I don’t like romance, but I like a good love story. And erotica, here and there, is fun to read and to write. I like to laugh, but don’t go for reading humour as such, although it’s great when it sneaks in, a bit like the sex bits. It all depends on my mood, really.
I don’t write every day, and the conferenceI’m organizing has taken almost two years out of my writing life. But it has given so much more in return in the way of meeting writers and their works, seeing a bit of what makes them tick, understanding the political beasts lurking behind all organizational endeavours, from snakes to snails and to puppy-dog tails. All this, I am sure, will inform future writings. And there’s the industry and all the changes, and the gospel according to Hugh Howey.
I like having my work out there and being read. I like being paid for the things I do, but I still like doing them even if I’m not paid. Don’t shoot me for that last remark. I am well aware that creative endeavours represent work that should be remunerated, but the fact is, I can’t stop the endeavor just because there is no lolly at the end of the rainbow.
|Hundertwasserhaus by Sharon Ratheiser|
I think at my age – soon hitting 65 and still working part time in a job I love – the whole writing thing is a passion and a process, and not a hobby, as my taxman well knows. I’m glad I came to it relatively late at the young age of 40, when I was one of the first women on the Internet, although the litmag that said so has long since disappeared, as has the publisher of my first story collection, The Past Present. I have a “platform” which seems to me more like a diving board from which I could jump into the swirling waters of change if only I managed to get my toes aligned, than a box at Speaker’s Corner to get the word out.
A good friend asked me what I had against the word “career”. I think it was the idea of goals and goalposts, the pretending to know what might happen, could or should happen, having to make it, be successful. “Success” is another one of those tricky words, something you strive for, and when you get it, it sort of fizzles out, unless of course you like chewing on it for the rest of your life.
So what’s left? For me. It’s the best of all possible worlds. A process I love that lets me be as I want, follow whichever path along which a touch or a glance might lead me. A wonderful bath of serendipity. Oh, and did I mention that my stories will soon be appearing in German as Schimmer der Vergangenheit?